Women are less likely to swipe right for men on dating apps if they are pictured holding a cat, new research has found.
According to a study carried out by scientists at Colorado State University, men who are pictured holding cats in their dating app profile photos are perceived as being “less masculine,” “higher in neuroticism” and “less dateable.” More than 1,300 people were surveyed for the study. Women between the ages of 18 and 24 were shown two photographs of the same man in his early twenties. In each of the photos, the man had dark hair, wore a blue shirt and was photographed against a white background. The difference was that in one photo, he was posing with a cat, and in the other, he was not.
The women were then asked to rate the two men in various attributes, including perceived personality, masculinity, dateability and whether they would consider going out with the person for a short or long-term relationship. The study found that overall when the man posed with a cat, he was perceived more negatively compared to when he posed without the cat. However, there were some positive traits, with the addition of the cat making the man seem more open and agreeable.
Holding a cat also made the man seem more confident and outgoing compared to when he was pictured alone. “This study found that college-age women viewing a photo of a man alone versus a photo of the same man holding a cat rated the man holding the cat as less masculine,” the study concludes.
It’s important to note that these findings were influenced by whether the female viewer self-identified as a ‘dog’ or ‘cat’ person, suggesting that American culture has distinguished male cat owners as less masculine, perhaps creating a cultural preference for dog owners among most heterosexual women in the studied age group.
“These findings suggest that pets continue to play a role in women’s dating choices and preferences, but that a closer look at the effects of different species of pets is warranted.”